Teaching a young horse to line drive
before starting them under saddle is an excellent way to give your young horse a strong foundation in the basics. Line driving a horse before working them under saddle helps teach them how to understand the action of a bit in their mouth before being ridden. This reduces the chance of the horse bucking or bolting when mounted by a rider for the first time.
Teaching a young horse to line drive, or ground drive, is best taught by a professional, but if you've had plenty of experience line driving young horses this can be a rewarding part of the training process to do yourself. To begin teaching a young horse to line drive, start gradually. First teach your young horse to lunge in a halter. Then introduce a plain snaffle bit and gradually the bridle. Acclimate the young horse to being lunged in a bridle with a snaffle bit in. Before teaching your horse to ground drive, begin desensitizing your horse to ropes flipping and touching all over his body.
To begin the actual process of teaching a horse to line drive, you'll need a helper. Put a halter over your horses bridle and attach a lead rope. Let your second handler head your young horse as you run driving reins back to a safe distance for you to follow. Begin by letting your handler lead the horse, as the handler gives the halter cue to turn, cue the young horse through the bridle to turn. AS your young horse learns how ground driving cues work, allow your handler to gradually have less influence. After the horse starts to understand the rein cues, have your header stop giving the horse cues with the halter and leave the lead line slack. Then replace the lead line with a short rope that won't drag and have your header walk at the horse's head but without grasping the lead rope. When your horse is calm and relaxed in lines and understanding your cues you can eliminate the halter, lead, and header all together.
Teaching a young horse to line drive is a valuable skill throughout a horse's training. Check out some of the books listed on this page to learn how to can go beyond basic turns to teaching advanced maneuvers like flexion, collection, and even lateral movements all before you ever put a foot in the stirrup!